Saturday, September 26, 2009

Xièxie! Zàijiàn! (Thank you! Good bye!)

Today was my first day of Mandarin classes, "Gateway to Mandarin Level 1".  It is 10 sessions of a 3hr class on Saturday afternoons.  It is put on by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and a pretty fun building as you can see in the pic.  I arrived plenty early to pay up my tuition and grab the first seat.  The next person to arrive was another American who's been here about 8 months already.  Out of a class of almost 20, we are the only 2 Americans - my table partner was from Thailand, there were a few people from India, one from France, the UK (I think) and then other people who appeared to be Eastern Asian but I'm not sure where from.  So a good mix of us!

Our instructor came in, "Wo shi Peng Bo", and kept repeating while we looked at her like "huh??".  Finally we figured out that it is "I am Peng Bo", " ne?" -->"and who are you??".  The first five minutes of class, she spoke no English and kept having everyone introduce themselves only half understanding what we were saying.  Then she finally broke into some English explanations and I was a bit relieved.  The 3 hours flew by and she made it quite fun.  (Using "quite" has been something I've picked up here in Singapore.)  When we had good conversational exchanges with our table partners, she would say "very terrific", "sounds like Beijing local" and "so good"; although I know we had to be big time butchering everything.  I probably said one sentence ten times and in a different way each time.   Here are some of my notes.  I'm excited to go back next week.  My table partner from Thailand actually had a year of Mandarin back when she was in school and she's married to a Chinese man now, so she knows some of this easy stuff and helps me out :)  Here are some of my notes from our first lesson.

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